The Universal Investment Strategy (UIS) is one of our core investment strategies. It is an evolved, intelligent version of the classic 60/40 equity/bond portfolio. Much like the classic portfolio, UIS holds both the S&P 500 index and bonds. However, UIS can intelligently adapt to current conditions by shifting weight away from stocks in difficult markets and adding weight in bullish markets.

Instead of using simple bond ETF, UIS uses a sub-strategy, called HEDGE, which can choose between different types of safe-heaven ETFs.

The equity/bond (or in our case equity/HEDGE) pair is interesting because most of the time these two asset classes profit from an inverse correlation. If there is a real stock market correction, usually ETFs included in the HEDGE strategy (Treasuries, Gold, etc) are the 'safe' assets where money flows to, providing crash protection.

'Total return, when measuring performance, is the actual rate of return of an investment or a pool of investments over a given evaluation period. Total return includes interest, capital gains, dividends and distributions realized over a given period of time. Total return accounts for two categories of return: income including interest paid by fixed-income investments, distributions or dividends and capital appreciation, representing the change in the market price of an asset.'

Using this definition on our asset we see for example:- Compared with the benchmark SPY (98.3%) in the period of the last 5 years, the total return, or increase in value of 72.4% of Universal Investment Strategy is smaller, thus worse.
- Compared with SPY (27.2%) in the period of the last 3 years, the total return, or performance of 20.4% is lower, thus worse.

'The compound annual growth rate isn't a true return rate, but rather a representational figure. It is essentially a number that describes the rate at which an investment would have grown if it had grown the same rate every year and the profits were reinvested at the end of each year. In reality, this sort of performance is unlikely. However, CAGR can be used to smooth returns so that they may be more easily understood when compared to alternative investments.'

Using this definition on our asset we see for example:- The annual return (CAGR) over 5 years of Universal Investment Strategy is 11.5%, which is smaller, thus worse compared to the benchmark SPY (14.7%) in the same period.
- Compared with SPY (8.4%) in the period of the last 3 years, the annual return (CAGR) of 6.4% is smaller, thus worse.

'Volatility is a statistical measure of the dispersion of returns for a given security or market index. Volatility can either be measured by using the standard deviation or variance between returns from that same security or market index. Commonly, the higher the volatility, the riskier the security. In the securities markets, volatility is often associated with big swings in either direction. For example, when the stock market rises and falls more than one percent over a sustained period of time, it is called a 'volatile' market.'

Applying this definition to our asset in some examples:- The historical 30 days volatility over 5 years of Universal Investment Strategy is 9.4%, which is smaller, thus better compared to the benchmark SPY (20.9%) in the same period.
- Compared with SPY (17.7%) in the period of the last 3 years, the 30 days standard deviation of 8.6% is lower, thus better.

'Risk measures typically quantify the downside risk, whereas the standard deviation (an example of a deviation risk measure) measures both the upside and downside risk. Specifically, downside risk in our definition is the semi-deviation, that is the standard deviation of all negative returns.'

Using this definition on our asset we see for example:- Compared with the benchmark SPY (14.9%) in the period of the last 5 years, the downside volatility of 6.8% of Universal Investment Strategy is smaller, thus better.
- Looking at downside risk in of 6% in the period of the last 3 years, we see it is relatively lower, thus better in comparison to SPY (12.4%).

'The Sharpe ratio was developed by Nobel laureate William F. Sharpe, and is used to help investors understand the return of an investment compared to its risk. The ratio is the average return earned in excess of the risk-free rate per unit of volatility or total risk. Subtracting the risk-free rate from the mean return allows an investor to better isolate the profits associated with risk-taking activities. One intuition of this calculation is that a portfolio engaging in 'zero risk' investments, such as the purchase of U.S. Treasury bills (for which the expected return is the risk-free rate), has a Sharpe ratio of exactly zero. Generally, the greater the value of the Sharpe ratio, the more attractive the risk-adjusted return.'

Applying this definition to our asset in some examples:- The ratio of return and volatility (Sharpe) over 5 years of Universal Investment Strategy is 0.96, which is larger, thus better compared to the benchmark SPY (0.58) in the same period.
- Compared with SPY (0.33) in the period of the last 3 years, the risk / return profile (Sharpe) of 0.46 is greater, thus better.

'The Sortino ratio measures the risk-adjusted return of an investment asset, portfolio, or strategy. It is a modification of the Sharpe ratio but penalizes only those returns falling below a user-specified target or required rate of return, while the Sharpe ratio penalizes both upside and downside volatility equally. Though both ratios measure an investment's risk-adjusted return, they do so in significantly different ways that will frequently lead to differing conclusions as to the true nature of the investment's return-generating efficiency. The Sortino ratio is used as a way to compare the risk-adjusted performance of programs with differing risk and return profiles. In general, risk-adjusted returns seek to normalize the risk across programs and then see which has the higher return unit per risk.'

Using this definition on our asset we see for example:- Compared with the benchmark SPY (0.82) in the period of the last 5 years, the ratio of annual return and downside deviation of 1.34 of Universal Investment Strategy is greater, thus better.
- Looking at excess return divided by the downside deviation in of 0.65 in the period of the last 3 years, we see it is relatively higher, thus better in comparison to SPY (0.47).

'Ulcer Index is a method for measuring investment risk that addresses the real concerns of investors, unlike the widely used standard deviation of return. UI is a measure of the depth and duration of drawdowns in prices from earlier highs. Using Ulcer Index instead of standard deviation can lead to very different conclusions about investment risk and risk-adjusted return, especially when evaluating strategies that seek to avoid major declines in portfolio value (market timing, dynamic asset allocation, hedge funds, etc.). The Ulcer Index was originally developed in 1987. Since then, it has been widely recognized and adopted by the investment community. According to Nelson Freeburg, editor of Formula Research, Ulcer Index is “perhaps the most fully realized statistical portrait of risk there is.'

Applying this definition to our asset in some examples:- Looking at the Downside risk index of 4.53 in the last 5 years of Universal Investment Strategy, we see it is relatively lower, thus better in comparison to the benchmark SPY (9.32 )
- During the last 3 years, the Downside risk index is 5.49 , which is smaller, thus better than the value of 10 from the benchmark.

'Maximum drawdown is defined as the peak-to-trough decline of an investment during a specific period. It is usually quoted as a percentage of the peak value. The maximum drawdown can be calculated based on absolute returns, in order to identify strategies that suffer less during market downturns, such as low-volatility strategies. However, the maximum drawdown can also be calculated based on returns relative to a benchmark index, for identifying strategies that show steady outperformance over time.'

Applying this definition to our asset in some examples:- The maximum DrawDown over 5 years of Universal Investment Strategy is -15 days, which is higher, thus better compared to the benchmark SPY (-33.7 days) in the same period.
- Looking at maximum DrawDown in of -12.2 days in the period of the last 3 years, we see it is relatively larger, thus better in comparison to SPY (-24.5 days).

'The Drawdown Duration is the length of any peak to peak period, or the time between new equity highs. The Max Drawdown Duration is the worst (the maximum/longest) amount of time an investment has seen between peaks (equity highs) in days.'

Using this definition on our asset we see for example:- Compared with the benchmark SPY (488 days) in the period of the last 5 years, the maximum days below previous high of 489 days of Universal Investment Strategy is higher, thus worse.
- Looking at maximum days below previous high in of 489 days in the period of the last 3 years, we see it is relatively larger, thus worse in comparison to SPY (488 days).

'The Drawdown Duration is the length of any peak to peak period, or the time between new equity highs. The Avg Drawdown Duration is the average amount of time an investment has seen between peaks (equity highs), or in other terms the average of time under water of all drawdowns. So in contrast to the Maximum duration it does not measure only one drawdown event but calculates the average of all.'

Which means for our asset as example:- Compared with the benchmark SPY (123 days) in the period of the last 5 years, the average days under water of 121 days of Universal Investment Strategy is lower, thus better.
- During the last 3 years, the average time in days below previous high water mark is 180 days, which is larger, thus worse than the value of 177 days from the benchmark.

Historical returns have been extended using synthetic data.
[Show Details]

Allocations and holdings shown below are delayed by one month.

Register now to get the current trading allocations.

- Note that yearly returns do not equal the sum of monthly returns due to compounding.
- Performance results of Universal Investment Strategy are hypothetical and do not account for slippage, fees or taxes.
- Results may be based on backtesting, which has many inherent limitations, some of which are described in our Terms of Use.